Installing Vinyl Siding

Starter Strip

    1. For the siding to be installed properly, the starter strip must be level.

    2. The starter strip should hang 1" to 3" below the top of the foundation.

    3. Measure down from the top plate or soffit at each corner and snap a chalk line in between.

    4. Install the top edge of the starter strip along the chalk line, nailing at 10" intervals. Allow space for the corner posts, J-channels, etc.

    5. Keep the ends of starter strips at least 1" apart to allow for expansion.

    6. Nail in the center of the starter strip nailing slots.



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    1. Allow 1/32" (about the thickness of a dime) between the fastener head and the siding. Do not drive the nail tight against the siding nail hem. (Exception: siding with a fabric nail hem should be nailed tight.)

    2. Drive nails straight and level to prevent distortion and buckling of the panel.

    3. Start in the center of the panel and work toward the ends.

    4. Center the fasteners in the slots to permit expansion and contraction of the siding.

    5. Space the fasteners a maximum of 16" apart for siding and every 8" to 10" for accessories.

    6. Start fastening corner posts in the top of the top slots to hold them in position. Place all other fasteners in the center of the slots.

    7. Do not face-nail through siding, as it can cause ripples.

Doors & Windows

  1. J-channel is used around windows and doors to receive the siding.

  2. Each piece of J-channel should extend beyond the window to the outside edges of adjoining J-channel.

  3. Attach the bottom piece first, snug to the window.

  4. Notch and fold the bottom end of the side piece inward to fit over the existing J-channel to prevent water from entering under the sill.

  5. Cut and bend the tab of the top piece of J-channel down to provide flashing over the side J-channel.

  6. Miter cut the overlapping flange at each corner at a 45° angle. The underlying J-channel is not cut.

  7. To install siding panels under or over windows, use a snaplock punch to place lugs in the cut edge of the panel. Install undersill (utility) trim under/over the window, as a receiver for the cut siding. Install the siding panel, making sure the lugs (from the snaplock punch) lock into the undersill trim.

Installing Panels

  1. The first panel should be placed in the starter strip and securely locked along its entire length.

  2. Push up from the bottom until the lock is fully engaged (without stretching the panel), reach up, and nail it. Make sure the panel is securely locked before fastening. Allow hanging without strain.

  3. Make certain that the panels move freely side-to-side when fastened. Leave 1" clearance at all openings and stops for expansion and contraction.

  4. Check every fifth or sixth course for horizontal alignment. Also check alignment with adjoining walls.

  5. When panels overlap, make sure they overlap by 1" on the face of the panel.

  6. Stagger end laps so that no two courses are aligned vertically, unless separated by three courses. Stagger overlaps by 3'. Expose the factory finished edge.

  7. Overlap joints away from entrances and away from the point of greatest traffic (siding furthest from the entrance should be installed first).

Cutting Siding

  1. Safety goggles are always recommended for cutting and nailing operations.

  2. When using a circular saw, cut slowly with a reversed fine-tooth (plywood) blade. Do not attempt to cut materials other than vinyl with a reversed saw blade.

  3. With tin snips, avoid closing the blades completely at the end of a stroke for a neat, clean cut.

  4. With a utility knife, score the vinyl face up with medium pressure and snap it in half. It is not necessary to cut all the way through the vinyl.

Vinyl Siding Institute, "Installation Fact Sheet."


Download the complete "Installation Fact Sheet" or the latest edition of "Vinyl Siding Installation: A How-To Guide" at the Vinyl Siding Institute.


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